New restaurant at EPCOT? Check.
Increased prices for Disney World annual passes? Check.
A massive celebration to honor the 50th anniversary of Disney World’s opening that keeps unveiling surprise after surprise? Check.
Better COVID numbers in Florida heading into the spring? Check.
Brand new rise in ticket prices? Check.
We saw all of these things coming, but Disney becoming a bookie? The entertainment giant serving as a platform for sports wagering and betting?
Nope. We didn’t see that one coming. But that’s exactly what Bob Chapek has up his sleeve for his next trick, as he shared in September 2021, during the Goldman Sachs 30th Annual Communacopia Conference, with a group of investors.
Chapek, CEO of the Walt Disney Company, told the group of investors that Disney is looking at building deeper relationships and licensing partnerships with gambling operators through ESPN, which serves as Disney’s sports broadcasting powerhouse.
ESPN currently features some betting lines during games that are broadcast through its network, and points spreads are included during some games as well. Deeper relationships with those operators will allow Disney more opportunities to “get in on the action.”
ABC, which is also owned by Disney, does similar things during some of its sports broadcasts as well.
“There’s a long way between ’embedded into the ESPN’ business model and licensing out,” Chapek explained to the audience. “Let’s just say that our fans are really interested in sports betting. Let’s say that our partners — with the leagues — are interested in sports betting. So we’re interested in sports betting.”
Sounds like more of that “Guest-demand-at-Disney-Parks-type-thing” that was discussed during the company’s most recent earnings call in August. The earnings call earlier this month was so much about all the money Disney has made. However, during the recent fourth-quarter earnings call, Chapek did talk about the role demand plays in Disney’s business model.
It’s hard to think of Disney–one of the most family-oriented of the Fortune 500 companies as a partner in gambling operations. However, there’s big money in sports wagering, and Disney is continually reimagining ways to boost revenue, meaning Disney as a bookie could soon be more of a reality than just an idea.